Posted by: monsonmadness | April 19, 2012

Flag Day

Flag day is such a big deal in American Samoa and Patriotism is rampant. With two days off school and work, the Samoans plan elaborate parades, contests, races, and competitions. I was advised that I should experience some of it at least once, although most of my non-Samoan friends “knew better” and didn’t attend any of the events.

The week leading up to flag day included many dance festivals, a fa’afafine beauty pageant, and preliminary fauatasi races.

The streets were decorated with the colors of the flag and yes, I framed this shot on purpose so you could see our American fast food restaurants on the island. Pretty sure I’ll never eat at these places after we leave here. Variety really is the spice of life.

Driving anywhere this past week was ridiculous. Trains of about 20 cars with kids and teenagers sitting on roofs or hanging out of windows waving flags would drive along roads slowly, honking their horns, and letting you know which boat they were cheering for. I saw about 6 kids on top of a car hanging on for dear life and pulled out my camera, but didn’t get it out in time. No tickets for no seat belts this week! Anything goes!

Anyway, the only place that I felt confident not losing one of my children was at the football stadium. I guess I wasn’t too confident because I dressed them all alike to make head counts easier, but check out the people all around us…what was I thinking? Like my kids don’t stand out in a crowd! The stadium was packed to capacity and I didn’t see another white person anywhere! I think I’d be able to spot my kids just fine if they wandered!

I packed a bag of drinks and some snacks, and we set off an hour after the start. We were hoping to miss the Samoan speeches but didn’t. Some of it was in English and was actually quite interesting. For example, it was neat watching 41 young people between 18-21 years old being sworn into the armed services. 39 into the Army, and 2 into the Marines. 13 were females, the rest were males. 15 will be working as reserves here in American Samoa, while the rest will be going on active duty.

After that, the parade began. Now it was almost 90 degrees, and these people on the field had been standing there for at least a couple of hours.

Sure enough, one by one, they started to drop. EMS would come out with their stretchers and carry them off. They were probably dehydrated, but I felt so bad for them. We watched 3 people be carried off the field and were only stayed for an hour!

Michael says that the only thing that’s more pathetic than a parade is the people that watch them. He’s not normally that opinionated, but for some reason, he really can’t stand parades. If he’d have ever watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in person like I have, he would know that sometimes it’s all about the atmosphere! It can be fun, especially for kids.

Good job he wasn’t with us, because the heat and the fact that there were 7 of us sitting in two spaces didn’t make for a good combination. The kids perked up every time they saw something interesting though. They loved watching the marching band and naming all the instruments. They loved seeing Miss Samoana who is a friend from church that they recognized.

They also loved seeing the boy scouts from our neighbor stake marching. They said they recognized a boy from school, but I’m not sure about that! Many elementary school and I think all the high schools marched in their colors, and the kids loved looking for neighbors and friends, but by far, the highlight of the parade for them came when…

Out came Charlie the Tuna! I’ve got to say I took a better photo than the one in the Samoa news.

The local newspaper said that there were 1,700 employees of StarKist Samoa who marched in the parade, led by their icon — Charlie the Tuna — who has been the StarKist cartoon mascot for its tuna brand for 51 years. StarKist Samoa was established in American Samoa in 1963 and next year, 2013, will mark 50 years of operation for StarKist in the territory. All departments of StarKist Samoa were represented in this year’s march, except Engineering, who reported to work yesterday for maintenance upgrades. Company production closed Monday and yesterday to allow a majority of workers to participate in the Flag Day celebration.”
So there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about how flag day is celebrated in American Samoa. Nice to have something different to do in the middle of a school week!
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Responses

  1. Jeff hates parades too. the times the girls have seen parades have been because I’ve taken them. You are right though– it’s all about the atmostphere!


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